THE SOCIAL IMPACT OF EMOTION AI IN GAMING

©2020 audEERING GmbH       Soroosh Mashal         10.07.2020

If you have been following our blog posts, you know that we explained the importance of emotions and their role in our daily interactions. This week, we will see how you can profit from integrating this emotional layer into your products. Furthermore, we will cover the question, how society can benefit from this technology.

Although your common sense can easily tell you that an emotional interaction is better than an emotionless one, let’s assume that we are suffering from alexithymia, and the only way for us to comprehend it is to read scientific studies. The field of Affective Gaming touches on the intersection of affective computing and game design to help us see how we should integrate emotions in video games. The role of emotional design for games has been studied and frameworks are available to show us how to integrate emotional design concepts and produce desirable digital games. For example, the ACE framework takes a physiological point of view and shows how biofeedback can be used in such a setting. Other studies show how using emotions to adapt the environment can to your state increases user engagement.

Customers pay more for products with emotion recognition

In a nutshell, scientific studies tell us that if you integrate emotions in your product, you have a higher chance of success. In addition to that, scientific studies of comparison groups show that customers are likely to pay 18% more for a product that has AI technologies integrated. Thus, we can conclude that having emotion AI in a product increases your sales, customer satisfaction, and your chance of success by a noticeable margin.

How emotion recognition affects society and our kids

But what does the success of this technology mean for our society and especially our kids. Is this a zero-sum game or is it a win-win situation? Two years, The Wall Street Journal published the article: “Alexa: Don’t Let My 2-Year-Old Talk to You That Way”. It opened our eyes to the subtle but present effect the lack of emotion detection in these products has and how it is affecting our children. Children are bossing around personal assistants because they don’t receive a proper emotional response, and this can affect their personalities in a negative way. Though it is first of all an educational task for the parents to teach their children to be polite and respectful, the way these technologies are built can run contrary to their efforts.

We are already aware of these requirements when it comes to humans, but why we are so fine with ignoring them when it comes to our children’s interactions with computers? Researches clearly show the importance of social and emotional competence and their link to employment outcomes and well-being, yet we tend to close our eyes to the fact that our children are increasingly having more interactions with emotionless objects and virtual environments.

The gaming industry will hugely profit from emotion recognition

Another great example, which shows why we need to make technology more emotional, is the gaming industry. Children and adults play games. The video game industry is growing at an unprecedented rate and there is no sign of stopping. Corona pandemic just fueled this growth as well. We have more and more people interacting with computers through virtual environments and games, and those interactions are still lacking proper emotional interaction.

So, what shoud parents do? Throwing Alexa out of the window and the PlayStation into the bin? No, instead of banishing new technologies because of their possible negative effects, we should take this feedback and make them better, e.g. with emotion recognition.

Making technology more humAIne

We should not only see emotion recognition as a factor for economic success, but also for creating a world and raising a generation that has learned proper emotional response towards humans as well as technology. A generation that is bound to success because they are raised well. Kids who learn to behave properly in fantasy worlds. Kids who learn to sound polite and friendly when they talk to Alexa rather than ordering and bossing around. During those emotional interactions with virtual environments and virtual characters, we and our children can learn how to stay humane. We can do it through emotion AI. We can be more humAIne.

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